Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson believes the current law regarding foreigners leaves room for a great deal of discrimination, and has called for a review.
By Icelandic law, foreigners are grouped into three categories: Scandinavians, those within the European Economic Area (EEA), and everyone else. Levels of privilege are greatest among Scandinavians, followed by foreigners from the EEA, while non-EEA foreigners often have to contend with quite a struggle to live in Iceland.
RÚV reports that a workgroup at the Ministry of the Interior has been assembled to examine how existing Icelandic law affects non-EEA foreigners.
Numerous areas will be reviewed. For example, the workgroup intends to explore the possibility of being able to issue residence permits that are not necessarily bound to work permits – as it is, non-EEA foreigners must have jobs waiting for them in Iceland that no Icelander can do or wants to do before they can set foot in the country. Also, some foreigners – such as athletes and medical students – are allowed to bring their children over with them, while others are not. The minister considers this a form of discrimination and wants to see the law changed.
Another point that was raised was regarding asylum seekers. Ögmundur believes it takes entirely too much time for refugee applications to be processed – indeed, some asylum seekers have waited for years to receive any kind of answer.
Halla Gunnarsdóttir, the minister’s assistant, told reporters she expects the project to finish this year.